SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — The attorney for the family of Brian Laundrie, the 23-year-old man who was named a person of interest in the death of his fiancee, 22-year-old Gabby Petito, told reporters Wednesday that unidentified “articles” belonging to the missing man were found at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
Officials with the FBI confirmed that “items of interest” were found Wednesday morning at the Carlton Reserve, the sprawling, 25,000-acre nature reserve connected to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
Update 4:38 p.m. EDT Oct. 20: Michael McPherson, the agent in charge for the FBI’s field office in Tampa, said at a news conference that the “items of interest” found at Carlton Reserve were a backpack and a notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie. The items were found in an area that had been previously underwater, McPherson said.
McPherson also said that agents have found “what appears to be human remains” during today’s search for Laundrie.
McPherson said he had no further comment and referred all inquiries to the FBI office in Denver, adding that the investigation could take several days.
The news conference was held at the entrance to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park Entrance, located just north of the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve in North Port, located in a rural area of Sarasota County.
Update 3:55 p.m. EDT Oct. 20: The FBI confirmed in a Twitter post that it will brief the media at 4:30 p.m. about the latest developments in the search for Brian Laundrie.
Update 3:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 20: In a statement obtained by WFLA, officials with the FBI said they plan to hold a news conference at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday after NBC News reported that authorities found partial human remains during their search for Brian Laundrie.
Update 2:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 20: Officials with the FBI’s Tampa office confirmed Wednesday that “items of interest were located at the Carlton Reserve this morning in connection with the search for Brian Laundrie.”
Authorities did not immediately confirm a report from NBC News that partial human remains were found in the area. They also did not elaborate on what items were found.
Update 1:53 p.m. EDT Oct. 20: Citing an unidentified senior law enforcement official, NBC News reported that authorities found what appeared to be partial human remains in an area of the Carlton Reserve that had previously been underwater.
The reserve is connected to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, the area where Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino said items belonging to Brian Laundrie were found earlier Wednesday, according to multiple reports.
When asked about the NBC News report, Bertolino told WFLA that he had no comment.
Original report: Lawyer Steven Bertolino told WFLA and WZVN-TV that the items were found on a trail he frequented. Bertolino did not elaborate on what was found but said that Laundrie’s parents went to the park Wednesday morning to search for their son.
Officials with the Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office have been called to the park, according to WFLA and WZVN. A tent has been put up in the area where Laundrie’s items were found, WFLA reported.
Authorities with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to CNN that a cadaver dog was on the scene Wednesday, along with two spotters.
Officials closed Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park for more than a month as authorities searched for Laundrie, WINK-TV reported. The 160-acre, heavily wooded park connects to the Carlton Preserve, the area where officials focused search efforts after Laundrie’s family reported him missing last month.
Federal authorities in Wyoming issued a warrant for Laundrie’s arrest on Sept. 23.
In a Twitter post, officials with the FBI said: “The U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for Brian Christopher Laundrie pursuant to a Federal Grand Jury indictment related to Mr. Laundrie’s activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito.”
According to court documents, Laundrie allegedly used Petito’s debit card “on or about Aug. 30″ and through Sept. 1. The documents stated that Laundrie used at least one debit card and accessed two of Petito’s Capital One accounts and “obtained things of value aggregating to $1,000 or more during that period.”
The couple embarked in July on a cross-country road trip in a converted Ford Transit camper van, but family members said that they last heard from Petito in late August as she was visiting Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Laundrie returned to his parents’ North Port home on Sept. 1 in the van but without Petito and declined to speak about his fiancee with investigators.
Laundrie was named a person of interest in Petito’s death after authorities in Wyoming confirmed on Sept. 21 that the 22-year-old’s remains were recovered in the remote Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. A medical examiner later determined she died of manual strangulation.
Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, reported her daughter missing on Sept. 11, and Laundrie’s parents reported him missing on Sept. 17, three days after they said that he left their home to hike in the nearby Carlton Reserve.
Authorities have searched the swampy, nearly 25,000-acre nature preserve intermittently since Laundrie’s disappearance and announced on Monday that they are scaling back those efforts to air support only, WTVT reported.
Meanwhile, FBI agents, who have assumed control of the investigation visited Laundrie’s home last month, requesting some of his personal items to help with “DNA matching,” USA Today reported.
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